It’s a Wednesday morning at the Kiribati Institute of Technology, a unique technical and vocational education and training institution with a mission to provide high-quality courses and qualifications for I-Kiribati (the people of Kiribati).
Students are settling in to their morning classes. In the trades block, first year construction students are learning how to carry out measurements and calculations as they prepare for their next practical. Later in the week they’ll apply their new knowledge in the workshop.
Across the grounds, business students are working at Micronesia Magic, the institute’s business simulator, under the guidance of their lecturer and mock ‘manager’ Bairenga. Over the term the students will rotate through different roles involved in running a successful business, giving them hands-on experience working in a real business environment.
This is a typical morning at the Kiribati Institute of Technology, Kiribati’s leading technical and vocational education institute. The institute provides long and short courses with a focus on skills development and preparing graduates for employment in Kiribati, in the region, and globally. Finding overseas employment is often necessary for I-Kiribati due to limited opportunities in Kiribati.
The Kiribati Institute of Technology has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past nine years. With a multi- phased investment from the Australian Government and the Kiribati Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development, the institute has flourished. New state-of-the-art facilities and highly practical, learner-centred approaches mean I-Kiribati can access internationally recognised qualifications to help them find employment in Kiribati and further afield. Now in its third phase, the focus is the Skills for Employment Program. Scope Global is proud to have managed all three phases of the initiative since 2011.
Around 300 students complete courses at the institute’s two campuses each year. Current course offerings range from trades (including automotive mechanical, construction, electrotechnology and plumbing), through to accounting. All courses are taught in English in recognition that English language skills are a valuable asset for finding work in the region.
Linking graduates and I-Kiribati to employment is a key aim of Skills for Employment, and the institute’s Employment Support Service assists graduates to prepare job applications and practise for interviews. The service also supports I-Kiribati to prepare for overseas employment opportunities that are typically organised through the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development.
In addition, the institute supports graduates through the Business Incubator, which employs Kiribati Institute of Technology and Australian Pacific Technical College graduates and works as a functioning business – tendering for work and then coordinating all aspects of successful projects. The Business Incubator is frequently a pathway to further career opportunities; four graduates have found work through the Employment Support Service in the past four months.
The two campuses are vibrant hubs of activity and each day of learning is punctuated by table tennis in the quadrangle, traditional dance practice, and students gathered in kia kias (huts built by the construction students) or manaeba (meeting place). It’s clear the campuses are much more than just places for learning – they bring students and staff together to socialise, weave traditional culture into their learning, and provide practical opportunities to learn, grow and take active steps toward the future.
Inclusive access to vocational education and training
Inclusion is a core focus of the Skills for Employment Program, and significant gains have been made in making the curriculum more inclusive. There is active engagement with local students with a disability, to support their transition to further study or work. Staff have also participated in training on disability awareness and integrating voice recognition software into their teaching.
Kiribati’s 33 atolls are widely dispersed and there is a growing focus on providing learning opportunities to people in the remote outer areas. In June 2017, a plumbing short course was piloted in Kiritimati, more than 3200 kilometres from the main atoll of Tarawa. The pilot provided basic plumbing training for two cohorts of students, with further visits planned to provide intermediate and advanced training.
In July 2017 a bridging course for disengaged young men was trialled in collaboration with ChildFund. The course supported 19 men to get on a pathway to learning and sought to help them improve their literacy, numeracy, oral communication, English language and digital technology skills in line with the levels of the Australian Core Skills Framework.
Scope Global manages the Kiribati Facility, including the Skills for Employment Program, on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.